People say that lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice. Well, it’s practically untrue since there is a place on earth that seems to be like a lightning rod that lures in all the lightning in one place. In Venezuela, there is a particular spot on a lake that attracts a whopping 1.2 million lightning strikes a year. It’s hard to believe but it’s about 28 lightning bolts every minute. This amount of energy is enough to power more or less a hundred million light bulbs!
This spectacular phenomenon is called the “Catatumbo Lightning”. Originating from a mass of storm clouds at a height of more than 1 kilometer above, lightning, strikes on this specific spot, typically over a bog area where Catatumbo River empties into Lake Maracaibo in the far northwest of Venezuela. This phenomena occurs 260 nights a year, 10 hours a day and 280 times in every hour. This is considered to be the most lightning-struck place in the face of the planet. It somehow became a tourist destination for some people who wants to witness the spectacular and natural light show that nature has to offer.
Although the spot has been confirmed on the exact location, the Catatumbo Lightning changes its frequency from time to time along the year. There is one instance that lightning strikes ceased to occur from January to March 2010 that temporarily raised fears of the phenomenon being extinguished permanently but was later found out that it was drought that caused it. Humidity in a sense may have played a vital role in the occurrence but scientists lately say that maybe it’s the region’s wind patterns and unique topography that contribute to the special phenomenon. They say that when warm winds, trapped by the surrounding mountains in Lake Maracaibo, collides with cool air coming down from the Andes mountains, they are forced to condense, thus creating thunderclouds.
“A lot of the (lightning) hot spots are tied to features in the terrain — slopes of mountain ranges, curved coastlines, combinations of those,” Dr Daniel Cecil from the Global Hydrology and Climate Centre’s lightning team told the BBC.
“Having irregularities like that in the terrain can help generate wind patterns and heating or cooling patterns that would boost the likelihood of thunderstorms.”
Considering the incredible amount of lightning strikes, one may wonder if those are some kind of extra special lightning of sort but according to studies, those lightning bolts is the same with every kind of lightning that flashes all around the world.